Tenerife, a Canary Island

Canary Islands in Spain are the best places to visit between October and March if you don’t want too much crowd and if you are looking for pleasant temperatures between 20 and 25 deg C. We have already been to Mallorca and Gran Canaria, so this time we decided to visit Tenerife for a week. Tenerife, also known as the Volcanic island is the largest and the most populous of Canary Islands.

The 4 hour flight to Tenerife was uneventful. Neel slept off during the flight. Everyone suggested I feed him or give him a pacifier during take off and landing but he seemed to be fine without them. We found out that we were allowed to carry a stroller and car seat for Neel, so we did not have to book another one while renting a car. It is highly recommended to rent a strong motorized vehicle as the island is very hilly. Our Rental car was a BMW 116d rented from Hertz.

Day 1

Ride through El Teide to Puerto de la Cruz

El Teide (Pico del Teide) is not just the highest mountain in Canary Islands but, at a height of 3718 m, the highest in all of Spain. It is an active volcano. The drive from our AirBnB in Las Galettas to the mountains was breathtaking and picturesque. We drove up to the car park in El Teide which is almost at 2200 m height. We made sure to drive slowly and carefully, as it is not recommended to take the baby to such heights. We made stops in between to check on Neel. From the car park, tourists can take a 10 minute cable lift to the top (27€ per person/return). From the top there is an amazing view of the island. (We did not make this trip because of Neel). A lot of hiking paths are also indicated.

From there we drove on towards Puerto de la Cruz. After lunch we walked around the city and the sea promenade while enjoying ice cream.

Day 2

Drive through West coast of Tenerife

The next day we drove around Santiago del Teide, Parque del Drago, Los Silos, Masca, Garachico, the lighthouse at the Punta de Teno and back to las Gallettas to our apartment. It was one of the best drives we took on this island. We passed many tiny beautiful towns and villages. One of them was Masca. We had to drive through many winding roads and hairpin bends to get there. Unfortunately, the village was crowded with tourists and no parking was available and so we could not stop and walk around the village.

Day 3

Adeje

We met our friends from Switzerland who were staying in one of the hotels in Adeje. Located in the South-western part of the island, Adeje is a famous tourist spot with beaches, hotels and malls. We ate amazing lunch at a restaurant called Limoncello by the beach.

Day 4

Loro Parque (Spanish for “Parrot Park”)

Loro Parque is a zoo in Puerto de la Cruz. Since its inception in 1972, Loro Parque has created the most diverse genetic reserve of parrots that exists in the world, attaining more than 4,000 specimens of 350 different species and subspecies. Along with these parrots, Loro Parque is home to many other birds and animals including Penguins, flamingos, swans, cranes, chimpanzees, gorillas, lions, tigers, killer whales, dolphins, to name a few. There are some interesting shows like dolphin shows, parrot shows, orca show. We spent one whole day at the zoo. Neel enjoyed watching the animals and the birds. Entry fee costs 35 Euro for adults and 24 Euro for children between 6 and 11. Free entry for children under 6 years old.

For an additional 11 Euros per person, we enjoyed Discovery tour where a tour guide took us around the zoo explaining about the animals and their habitats and also took us inside some of the animal enclosures to show how they are fed and taken care of. If you are in Tenerife, do visit this zoo. It is totally worth it!

Day 5

Playa de las Americas

It is a popular holiday spot in the Southwestern part of Tenerife and features bars, nightclubs, restaurants and beaches. We took a walk along the coast enjoying lovely warm weather. We ended up eating burgers at Hard rock café.

Day 6

Los Gigantes

Los Gigantes is a resort town in the Santiago del Teide municipality on the west coast of the island. It is one of the most attractive natural wonders on Tenerife. The town is protected by impressive rock cliffs up to 800 m high. Taking a walk around is the best way to explore this beautiful town.

Day 7

El Medano / Flight Home

On our last day in Tenerife, we drove to El Médano, on the south east coast of Tenerife very close to the south airport. The town is very popular with windsurfers.

Accommodation

As we had heard a lot of good reviews about Airbnb, we decided to give it a try. This was our apartment in Tenerife.

Located in a small village called Las Galletas, our apartment had 2 bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a bathroom. All the amenities like TV, fridge, washing machine and air conditioning were available. They even had a crib for the baby. In the vicinity of the apartment there were cafes, supermarkets, pharmacy and various other shops. The owners Luca and Alina made sure that we were comfortable and happy with the place.

Right next to our apartment we found a small bakery called Café Del Pan that offered nice varieties of croissant, coffee and freshly pressed orange juice for very reasonable prices. This was our daily breakfast joint. Also, just few minutes’ walk from our apartment, we found one of the best Indian restaurants called Bobby’s 2 Indian Tandoori Restaurant.

Las Galletas has a small beach of black volcanic sand and rocks. The sea front promenade is lined with restaurants and cafe bars where you can relax in the sun overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

Things we carried for our baby

As it was our first trip with the little one, we made sure to carry everything that Neel liked and felt comfortable with. From the soft toys, the mobile he loves, we even took the swing he likes to sleep on (though we did not use it as he slept in the crib). Extra diapers, clothes, thermometer, oils and all his medicines. It is better to be safe than sorry. Make sure to take sun screen and some shawls or swaddling cloths to cover the stroller from the sun.

-Madhurya

 

A Honeymoon in Gran Canaria – Part 2

You can read Part 1 here.

After visiting the breath-taking Roque Nublo, we went to a town called Teror. Teror is a place of pilgrimage for Gran Canarians, because of the presence of a Cathedral dedicated to the Virgen del Pino (or Our Lady of the Pine), Patron Saint of Gran Canaria. We walked around the town enjoying the beautiful architecture of the Church and the homes nearby.

Teror

Mike was to go on a diving trip that day and he suggested I try the beginner’s level. I reluctantly agreed to join the ‘Discover Scuba Diving’ course. I’m not a big fan of water, you see (Have I mentioned that before?!? Maybe! Yet..) !

This course takes up a day; includes a theory on diving, where the instructor gives basic instructions; conducts a test-dive in a swimming pool; and concludes the course with a 30 minute dive in the Atlantic. Mike was in the `Advanced divers` group and he left with them to the sea. I stayed back with my instructor who taught me how to use hand sign to say ‘OK’ or ‘Not OK’; how to wear the diving suit, mask, regulators, and fins; and also how he would be assisting me in the water. We got into our diving suits and equipped ourselves with the regulators. Then we walked to the pool close to the diving base. Inside the pool, the instructor showed me how to remove water from the mask when inside the ocean, how to keep my posture right while diving and so on. After the test-dive, we took a break to pace ourselves for the big plunge and then drove to the Dive-site at the El Cabron beach.

Unfortunately, the weather was not on our side. As we got into the water, high waves rocked us to and fro, making it difficult to go deep down. We waited for them to pass and eased down slowly. Under-water visibility wasn’t good, but we did spot some beautiful fish.

Underwater

It’s hard to forget such a surreal experience, but to make it even more memorable, I was awarded a certificate from the diving company on completing the course. Thanks Mike for pushing me to try something that’s totally out of my comfort zone!

On the 6th day, we drove to the towns of Arinaga and Aguimes, located in the eastern part of Gran Canaria. There wasn’t much to see or do in those places, but I loved their vibes. The towns gave me a feeling of being in Arizona, one of my most favorite places in the whole world.

We had now seen almost everything (everything important, that is) in Gran Canaria. So we decided to visit 2 of the biggest malls there, El Mirador and Las Terrazas. We window-shopped a bit, checking out the Spanish brands and other well-known International ones. At the El Mirador mall, we were happy to spot a Dunkin Donut, the American Dough-nut Company, which is sadly not available in Switzerland. We enjoyed some delicious donuts and Coffee there.

On our way back, we stopped at a theme park called Sioux City, designed to look like the American Wild West. Being huge fans of the Western genre movies, especially the ones starring Clint Eastwood, Mike and I were too excited to spend time at the park! There were replicas of homes, forge, saloon, bars, church, barn and bank from that era. We watched the enactment of a bank robbery, replete with the usual cowboys, gunfights and so on. It was Super-Fun! (Entry ticket to the Park is about 20 Euros per person).

Sioux city

We shopped for souvenirs in Mogan and a huge shopping center in Playa del Ingles, called the Yumbo Center, before bidding the island a hearty Goodbye!

Inside Sioux City

So long, Gran Canaria!

Madhurya

A Honeymoon in Gran Canaria

For our honeymoon, Mike and I went on a week-long trip to Gran Canaria, one of Spain’s Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. We booked an early morning flight on a Saturday; Our sweet brother-in-law insisted upon dropping us off at the airport.

The 4 hour flight became even more exciting as I read this book!

After collecting our baggage, we went to the car-rental to pick our car-  A Volkswagen Beetle convertible!!! I was thrilled! It wasn’t too expensive, about 300 Euros for the whole week, including the insurance.

our car

The weather was good, around 25°C. It was a welcome relief from the cold weather in Switzerland. With the hood of the car down, we drove from the airport to our hotel in Playa del Inglés. Mike had booked a 5-star hotel, Bohemia Suites & Spa for our vacation and it was lovely! We were greeted with glasses of Prosecco (an Italian White Wine) from the staff as we waited for the receptionist to complete the formalities. The interior of the hotel was classy, with shades of pink and purple everywhere!

Hotel Lounge

We’d arrived earlier than the estimated time, and our room was not ready yet. So we decided to explore the city.The Playa del Inglés beach is close to the hotel. We took a stroll along the beach, enjoying the stunning views of the dunes and the sea. It was quite warm by now and we were very hungry. We tried Spanish omelets at a restaurant along the coast which tasted nice and different.

Back at the hotel, we were taken to our room. It had a modern decor with all the amenities and a view of the beach to boot! In the evening we drove to a town located in the south-west region of Gran Canaria called Puerto Rico, which has a beach with a ton of hotels and apartments on surrounding cliffs.

Puerto Rico beach

After Puerto Rico, we drove to Maspalomas, a small town south of the island. It felt like I was in Florida or Dubai. Apart from the usual hotels and branded stores, there’s a 56 meters high lighthouse, named El Faro de Maspalomas at the end point. We ended our first day watching the sunset at Maspalomas.

Our stay included complementary breakfast at Restaurant 360°. It is located at the rooftop of the hotel and offers beautiful views of the sea. I looked forward to dining there every morning.

When in Spain, one must never forget to try the Café con leche, a really hot, strong and delicious Coffee! We loved it and so would you, I’m sure!

Weather forecast suggested that there was going to be a storm in the northern part, so we decided to stay south. We visited another town in the south-western part of Gran Canaria called Mogán. Mogan has a beautiful beach and a huge harbor which is a major stop for yachts travelling from the Atlantic to the Caribbean. The canals and bridges of its seawater inlet have earned it the nickname “Little Venice.” Along the marina, you’ll find an assortment of restaurants and bars, and pretty Mediterranean homes and cottages.

Mogan

From Mogan, we drove towards La Aldea de San Nicolas , with old houses made of stone and mud from the 17th and 18th centuries. We passed beautiful landscapes as we drove: Mountains covered with plants like Aloe Vera, Cacti of various sizes and types, and vast blue sea.

After lunch at an authentic Spanish Restaurant, we went to Cactualdea Park. As the name suggests, this park displays a wide variety of cacti; More than 1200 species can be found here. Some have been brought from places like Madagascar, Bolivia, Mexico, and Guatemala. The park is huge; It reminded me of Arizona, especially, Tuscon where my sister and her family lived before moving back to India. (An entry into the Cactualdea Park costs 6 Euros per person)

Cactualdea park

On day 3, we visited the Palmitos Park, another botanical garden located in Maspalomas. This one has a wide range of exotic birds, especially parrots brought from Central and Latin America, monkeys, crocodiles, a Komodo dragon brought in from Brazil and more. Folks here conduct a parrot show, exotic bird show, and the park`s highlight – the Dolphin show. I highly recommend visiting this park if you are in Gran Canaria. (Entry costs 30 Euros per person).

Palmitos park

Weather promised to be nice and sunny on our 4th day and so we decided to explore the northern part of the island. Las Palmas, the capital of Gran Canaria, has an impressive infrastructure of hotels and apartments and its Port receives ships from all over the world. We walked around Triana, one of the oldest districts in Las Palmas and, now, its commercial center. It was just like any other bustling city and we weren’t too impressed with it!

Las palmas

The next day we went to see the Roque Nublo (Cloudy rock), located in the central part of the island in Tejeda. It dates back to the period between 5.3 and 5.4 million years ago, when a gigantic volcano erupted through the epicenter of the island forming this famous landmark.

It is about 67 meter high and is located on an elevated platform. A 1.5 km trek takes the visitor from the parking area to the rock. We tried our best to cover the rocky, semi-challenging ascent, but when I couldn’t push myself any further, we had to return. I wasn’t too disappointed; I still got to view and enjoy the “Pillar of Heaven” (as it was called by the indigenous people of the Island). Moreover, I experienced a different kind of adventure the next day that made me feel so proud of myself! Read about it in my next post….

Roque nublo

 Cheers,

Madhurya.